My flat mate Aaron would say "blown out of the water." Blown away will do the job. I don't have many pictures, but I have words.
Will words be enough?
You'll find everything in China, from flourishing nature to blistering cold -or scorching- deserts, from over populated mega cities to ghost cities giving the feeling of a close up look into the future of a planet Earth where something went wrong. You can also stumble upon Pandora like landscapes (which inspired the Avatar movie) or the flattest fields; or witness the extremely wealthy come across the very poor.
You'll also find abandoned neighborhoods and insane projects. Last week I fell in love with one. Not an abandoned neighborhood.
Ever heard of the SSGKC? Most likely not. It stands for the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City. This project is everything I love about China.
I'd stay on this one if I were you though...
The day started off normally, was planned a "Factory visit" for our final course on understanding China. Someone mentioned we were going to an incubator. I felt cheated as I was hoping for a manufacturing factory, with a huge press dominating the main hall, stomping down loudly on sheets of metal, and workers tightening bolts on a conveyor belt.
Nope, I didn't get that, I got something a million times better. My whole class was brought to a city being built about 60 kilometers our of Guangzhou. The first thing they built was a beautiful building with 12 meter ceilings to greet investors, enterprises and school fools. That's us. Then they built a Mc Donald's for workers to be able to eat and started building housing, housing and more housing. Will follow enterprise buildings, universities, a high speed train to reach Guangzhou in 15 minutes and much more.
It's not the first of its kind, China has actively been trying to depopulate mega cities, and has built several towns in the attempt to succeed in the former. For example, they built Ordos, in the province of Inner Mongolia (north of Beijing). The 1.351 million people housing capacity is occupied at less than 2%, with a little over than 20000 inhabitants currently there.
They built an airport, subways, museums, you name it! In vain. It failed.
Why? Well, I'm no expert, but they established it in the middle of nowhere, in a freezing province. But especially, as would say my father: "It's a catch-22."
For people to come to a city you need jobs and basic necessities: super markets, barbers, grocery stores... For companies to come to a city you need work force. But for work force to come to a city you need the employers. Seems like we've been around the circle. Catch-22.
So what's better about SSGKC?
We entered the main hall and after a mere 30 seconds the lights turned off and a video started on a huge screen.
This is how it looked. It looked great. I glanced at Aaron: "This looks great!"
"Isn't this how Jurassic Park started, then it all went to hell?"
Valid point... but I have reasons to believe this project will be the first success of its kind.
For one thing, realistically speaking, it's more a distant suburb of Guangzhou than a new city. Corporations will be able to establish offices without anyone living yet, and people will be able to commute from Guangzhou until it picks-up. And hopefully it will.
An other major point is the way they seem to have learned from past mistakes, and have a back up plan for each possible issue they thought of. Based on what made Singapore a success and Ordos a blooper, they've planned Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City.
Throughout our guided tour we were presented nearly everything, from how the water will be recycled to how floods will be managed. From where energy will be generated to where waste will be stored. From the population it will accommodate: 500000, to the price of the project: $40 billion. And that's just a start. Entirely financed by China's government and Singapore.
At the end of the visit, we took seats in a 3D cinema and watched a promotional clip (yes, in 3D) of how it will be. In it, people were holding iPhone 5s which were projecting holograms they could interact with. This project is focused on tomorrow.
To wrap it all up, a representative came in offering us each a job there, then asked if we had any questions.
Can I have a job please?